The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is citing rising costs and falling revenues as the reason for a proposed rate hike over the next five years.
If approved, the rate hike would take effect next year and send the average monthly bill up $30 by 2021. The money is needed to deal with the costs of a 25-year federal mandate to keep sewage out of Lake Erie. Sewer district CEO Julius Ciaccia says revenues are falling because more people are conserving water, but the sewer district still needs to maintain a certain level of infrastructure.
“We build these big utilities to meet peak demands. We could have a storm that runs through here that’s major, maybe happens only two times a year, but we have to be ready for that. Otherwise it’s going to be backing up into people’s basements and what-have-you.” Ciaccia says he’s headed to Washington, D.C. next month to discuss legislation introduced by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge that would help low-income customers pay their sewer bills, such as some already do with heating bills. “We do have what we call our Homestead Program, which is an income-based program for homeowners that are 200 percent of poverty or elderly. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge has introduced a piece of legislation that would create a LIHEAP-type program for water and wastewater.” The sewer district will hold public meetings on the proposed rate hikes:
Thursday, May 19 (Nordonia High School, 5-7 p.m.)
Wednesday, May 25 (Tri-C West, 5-7 p.m.)
Saturday, June 4 (Tri-C West, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.)
Wednesday, June 8 (Tri-C West, 5-7 p.m.)